A walk with the Boss

The State, 2002-12-08, by: various
I am writing with my Springsteen memories from January 1985. The Boss was on the "Born in the U.S.A." tour and had a concert scheduled for a Sunday night at Carolina Coliseum. On the day before the show, I was downtown, returning a Christmas gift at a department store. While standing in line I noticed a man pass me. His leather jacket lapels and a scarf covered most of his face. A USC baseball cap was pulled low over his eyes, which were also covered with sunglasses. Despite his apparent efforts to go unnoticed, I caught his profile just right as he walked by, and I was convinced it was Bruce. I told the salesgirl to hold onto the gift, that I would be back in a minute. I followed him and his companion (I didn't know it at the time, but it was the future Mrs. Springsteen, Patti Scialfa).

At the corner of Main Street just outside the store, I touched him on the elbow as the three of us waited for the light to change. Like all true Bruce fans, I was respectful of Bruce's privacy, so I asked quietly, "Excuse me sir, but are you who think you are?" He smiled, looked at Patti and shook his head slightly. He offered his hand and as he shook mine, he said, "Yeah, you got me, I'm Frank Sinatra." (Since I am also a big Sinatra fan, this answer was especially enjoyable.)

So the three of us walked down Main Street, discussing the tour, the album, Bruce's 1975 visit to The Township auditorium, and how much I was looking forward to the show that next night. As we reached their destination (the Capital Cafe), I shook Bruce's hand again and told him if he had nothing to do that night he should come out to the Elbow Room, then one of my favorite hangouts. I assured him that although it was a private club, I would sign him in as my guest. He laughed and said thanks, waved goodbye and stepped into the restaurant for lunch.

That night I signed Bruce in as I promised, but he apparently found something else to do. Even so, my story was a big hit with all the Elbow Room customers who cared to hear it. We drank beer, sang Springsteen songs loudly and poorly along with the stereo, danced and talked about our anticipation of the next night ... and kept one eye on the door. You know, just in case.

- Eric S. Mohn, Columbia

A night to remember

I can tell you I was wearing black jeans and a hunter green ruffled top on Nov. 30, 1992. It was the second longest date I had with my future husband, Richard, and the first and only, time seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert! We were both just out of college and tight on money. Still, Richard bought us tickets. His college roommate was supposed to buy ours with his, but he forgot, so we were stuck with seats up high and behind the stage. It didn't matter, though.

We arrived at the Omni in Atlanta at 6:30 p.m., two hours early. We made the best of it and used the time to get to know each other better (we had only been dating about two months). A man approached us, the only people sitting in our section, and he asked if we would like to exchange our tickets for floor seats. We were both very skeptical, but he reassured us that he was with the band and that Bruce does this at every show for his dedicated fans. We went along with him and switched tickets and proceeded down to the floor. About 30 minutes before the show began, an usher informed us we were in someone else's seats. Turned out we miss read the tickets, we were suppose to be in seats 1 & 2, row A. FRONT ROW.

Once we got settled in, the lady sitting behind us asked if we would switch with her for $200. We declined. My husband's roommate who forgot to buy our tickets was sitting about 15 rows back with his date. He yelled to Richard to have the girls sit back there while the two guys sat on the front row. I knew I was with a "keeper" when he told his roommate "No way."

As if the night couldn't get any better, after a few encores Bruce threw his harmonica into the crowd. You would be correct if you guessed that my husband caught it. It now hangs in a shadow box next to his ticket in our house. Almost 10 years and two kids, later we still vividly remember that night as if it were yesterday. Thanks, Bruce, for one of the most unforgettable nights of our life!

- Nancy D.H. Watson, 33, Columbia

A celebration of music

I've been to over 100 concerts in my lifetime, but nothing compares to a Springsteen show. It's more than a concert; it's a high energy celebration of music, memories and life. And Bruce makes you feel as if he's doing it just for you. ' On the "Born In The USA" tour in 1985 at the Greensboro Coliseum, the band played the opening of "Hungry Heart" and the crowd went wild. When it came time for Bruce to sing, he simply backed away from the microphone, pointed to the audience, and the fans sang the entire song for him. Then he and the band did the song again. He played that night for four solid hours without a break. Beautiful! When Bruce and the E Streeters come to town, you can bet the mortgage that I'll be there!

- Ken Reed, 36, Cayce

An instant fan

I first saw Bruce Springsteen in the winter of 1979. I was a freshman at Michigan State University. An upperclassmen friend of mine convinced me and a few other friends to go see Bruce's concert that night. I didn't really know who he was, but my friend talked me into it. The show was sold out, but security was made up of student volunteers. My friends and I each gave a door attendant $20, and we sneaked in a side entrance. We got on the floor of the arena, standing in front of a towering stack of speakers for the three-plus hour show. '.'.'. I was an instant fan. Since them I have seen him in Philadelphia; Landover, Md.; Chapel Hill and Raleigh. I am eagerly awaiting the Columbia show.

- Karl Kauffman, Columbia

Engaging performer

I attended about two dozen rock concerts before I finally got to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Bruce was the most engaging performer I had ever seen, but what struck me most was that this was the first rock concert I had ever been to where I did not smell pot smoke. I hope that Mr. Springsteen will still be around when I decide to share my love of live rock music with my children.

- Jack Street, Columbia

A winning entrance

I have seen Springsteen perform only 10 times in my lifetime, and with each show, I leave the respective venue exhausted mentally and physically, but I know that I'm a better person for it. Some of my concert highlights include experiencing an acoustic performance of "If I Should Fall Behind" (also performed at my wedding for our first dance in July 1995) with my wife on the first row at The Township auditorium in December 1996; holding Springsteen up during "Leap of Faith" in the Charlotte Coliseum in November 1992; and being pointed at and commented on by Springsteen during Working on the Highway as "You're working brother, You're working" at the Charlotte Coliseum in April 2000. Having experienced firsthand in the late 1980s USC's 2001 entrance to Williams-Brice Stadium, I would have to say that the beginning of a Springsteen show is very much like that, but with a Springsteen show, everybody wins.

- Brian Hawkins, Columbia

Visit with old friend

Asking a Springsteen fan to pick favorite memories is kind of like asking one to pick a favorite song or album. All are great, but some are just a bit greater. I've seen him four times; in '81, '85 and '90 in Columbia and in 2000 in Charlotte. I think that the Charlotte show was the best because of the unpredictability of the set list. Just for him to do "Something in the Night" and the long ago B-side "Stand on It" was awesome.

For some reason, though, the instrumental break during "Cadillac Ranch" in Columbia on the "Born in the U.S.A." show was just pure magic - one of those moments in time when you actually realize that you will remember it forever. It was just the joy in Springsteen's face and the Big Man on sax that let you know it was real. My cousin and I had 15th-row seats on the floor for that first show. Back in those days, we ordered tickets through the mail, and we wrote the most wanting, begging letter that I have ever seen. The excitement when I got the tickets in the mail and saw floor on them hasn't ever been equaled.

Seeing Springsteen is like a visit to see an old friend - one who has always been true to himself and to those around him. A line from one of his songs, "The Wish," sums it up for me: "I'm older, but you'll know me in a glance." Welcome back to South Carolina, old friend, we missed you.

- Stacy Charles, 34, Saluda